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About Us

The District 39 Educational Foundation has been incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization since 1993. We are an independent volunteer group that raises and grants funds for projects that expand, enrich, and complement educational opportunities for the students, staff, and community in District 39. We provide programs and materials through our Gripp Grants that our community is not able to fund with tax dollars alone. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees includes parents, teachers, business owners, and other members of the District 39 community.

The Foundation’s Mission

  • Promote educational innovation and excellence
  • Encourage community involvement and support for education
  • Challenge educators to raise their aspirations for educational programs
  • Increase students’ global awareness and understanding of human diversity
  • Expand opportunities for students to fulfill their varied interests and talents

Foundation Trustees for 2014-2015


Katherine Byrnes – Chair
Tracy Peacock – Vice-Chair
Frank Panzica – Treasurer
Sally McQueen – Secretary

Committee Chairpersons

Robin Shapo – Fundraising Chairperson
Lisa Finks – Math and Science Co-Chairperson
Anne Fitzpatrick – Math and Science Co-Chairperson                                                             Joan Criswell-Merrilees – Gripp Grant Chairperson
Elizabeth McKenna – Marketing Chairperson
Kim Ratkin – Board Development Chairperson                                                                       Heidi Mayer – Fine Arts Chairperson

School Liaisons

Nikki Circolone – Harper Liaison
Shari Gottlieb – McKenzie Liaison
Katherine Byrnes – WJHS Liaison
Tracy Kearney – Highcrest Liaison
Elizabeth McKenna – Romona Liaison
Robin Shapo – Central Liaison

Tina Baer
Liesel Brown
Andrea Dwenger – WJHS Teacher
John Flanagin – Board of Education Liaison
Pam Fowler
Suzanne Goff
Michael Holden – HMS Teacher
Margie Karabas
Susan Karol – PR
Sandy Karwowski – Romona Teacher
Jessie Kerber – Harper Teacher
Ray Lechner – Superintendent
William Harris Lee
Genny Lenon
Christine Moran
Susan Parker
Wendy Raymond
Lisa Ryan
Sabine Scholz                                                                                                                          Julie Tritsis                                                                                                                                 Brenda Werth

Honored Lifetime Member

Sam Mikaelian